Tag Archives: fiction

Magical redheads

I watched Harry Potter yesterday. I’ve had quite a lot of time on my hands over the past few weeks, for one reason or another, and it’s something I’ve known was going to happen eventually; things that are so easily achieved are rarely put off forever, I find, and I thought that ‘well over half my life’ was long enough to leave this particular activity before completion.

I got called ‘Hermione’ quite a bit at school as well, so it seemed best to find out the precise implications of that before I forgot the entirety of what being at school was like. Admittedly this name-calling was mostly contemporaneous with the early films, back when she was mainly just a smart-arsed pre-teen with massive hair (I see what they meant, the more film-savvy kids), and tailed off drastically when it emerged that she’s quite fit and physically heroic as well as the book-learned kind. I’m not going to pretend that didn’t smart a bit.

Oh, also, when I say “I watched Harry Potter recently”, I should also add the caveat that what I actually did was watch the last two, or one, depending on how you look at it. I’m fairly sure I’ve seen the first one, having been alive for a decade’s worth of Christmases since its TV debut, so that didn’t seem worth it, and having skipped that I thought I may as well cut to the ‘good stuff’, as it were.

It wasn’t an unenjoyable experience, I’ll admit that now. They’re not demanding films, even when lacking knowledge of the bulk of their backstory, and having grown up utterly irritated by the leads they didn’t grate excessively on my nerves. What really pissed me off, more than the shitty CGI acting or the word ‘Muggle’ or the sheer scale of the stupid moral showboating on display, was that bit at the end when Harry chucks that really powerful wand in the moat thing.

It’s presented as a moment of great importance. Harry’s the ultimate Goody Two-Shoes, a pacifistic non-ruffler of…bloody unicorn feathers, or whatever, and he’s just so fucking great that when presented with ‘the most powerful wand in the world’, he thinks, ‘Nah’. He’s not up for that. That’d be bad probably. So he snaps it in half, this wand that’ll only answer to him anyway, and he lobs it off a big bridge.

‘Most powerful wand in the world’. That’s a relative thing, that. That suggests a scale of power with this stick at its zenith. Harry’s just destroyed the biggest evil in the world and he’s got sole control over the thing that’s most powerful out of what’s left, and instead of looking after it with some sodding willpower he thinks, again for clarity, ‘Nah.’

Whilst I think understand that particular sentiment more than most (thinking ‘Nah’ and fucking something off because it seems like a bad plan, that is), this strikes me as somewhat problematic. Take the aforementioned Power Wand Index. Surely there’s a second most powerful wand in the world that’s just been promoted? How great a margin can there truly be between the two? And what’s going to defeat that? Harry? Not anymore, no. He’s thrown away the thing he’d need to sort that out. His stupid friends didn’t even stop him, they just stood there looking precious and a bit grubby, and then it cuts to them all rubber-faced with lots of ginger children.

I know you wear unfortunate glasses, you scabby git, but for God’s sake have a bit of foresight. That snake-nosed bloke might be gone, but are you so naive as to think that he’s the only one? Weren’t there other baddies you didn’t murder? One of them’s got the most powerful wand in the world now, and he’s going to fuck you up with it. This is how this sort of thing works, and no number of magical redheads will be able to save you this time.

Harry Potter and the Gigantic Fuck-Up. I knew there was a reason I’d avoided this shit.

The tyrannical gardener

Reading the Tale of Peter Rabbit to my infant daughter earlier, it struck me how the whole thing is basically a depressing, nihilistic story concerning the futility of popular resistance.

We hear how Peter’s father was captured in Mr McGregor’s garden and put in a pie by the tyrannical gardener, leaving Peter’s mother to raise her children alone. The poor broken woman urges her offspring to stay well clear of the McGregor premises, whereupon Peter immediately defies these instructions and heads straight for the garden. Doubtless he intends to avenge his father’s death, carving a trail of destruction through McGregor’s vegetable patch and destroying the long cultivated flowerbeds.

In the event McGregor spots him and immediately sets off on an unreasoned and obsessive pursuit of our hero, from which Peter barely escapes with his life. In a final insult, McGregor impales Peter’s coat upon a pole and sets it in his garden to serve as a grim warning as to what he will do should he ever catch the wretched rabbit.

In this tale, McGregor resembles the tyrannical state to Peter’s defiant everyman. It is not enough that McGregor has already destroyed Peter’s family and condemned them to a life of poverty, denying Peter the right to grow up with the father figure he so desperately needs, for if the rabbit even attempts to salvage a scrap of dignity the gardener will be upon him with a rabid mania intent upon denying him his very existence. There are no limits to the terror to which McGregor is prepared to subject Peter, for the gardener is completely without remorse or compassion.

And there is nothing that Peter can do about this, for McGregor is stronger, better prepared and equipped with a ruthlessness that Peter cannot even comprehend. All he can do is hide in the woods, keeping to the shadows, nursing a burning hatred and desire for vengeance which can never be quelled, only suppressed until at last he learns to accept his inferiority and realises the best he can ever hope for is that the gardener forgets he has ever existed in the first place.

The Case of the Missing IQs

Sherlock Holmes. The great detective in the funny hat. Since first appearing in 1887, fans all over the world have been devouring the stories. There have been spin-offs, movies, TV series, merchandise and more.

But what a lot of people forget is that this is a fictional fucking character. Almost every day I get off at Baker Street tube station and see a long line of twats queued up outside 221B Baker Street, now known as ‘the Sherlock Holmes Museum’. It’s mostly tourists, but I’ve seen large groups of people out there as early as 8.30am, ready to shell out 15 quid to see the famous detective’s house and purchase some awful souvenirs.

It baffles me, it really does, that while these people are in line (mostly staring at their smartphones) they can’t put two seconds of thought into what they are about to experience. It took me about 2 minutes on Wikipedia to find out that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle chose this address for his books because in 1887 it didn’t exist. At the time of publication, Baker Street extended to 221 – this actual building wasn’t created until 1932 and was then occupied by the Abbey National Building Society.

Despite my ravings I am a fan of the series and have read all the books. But by reading all the books, I know that Sherlock’s greatest asset is his mind. Unless people walk in and see a giant brain, this whole place is useless. Sir Arthur’s daughter also publicly said that she was against the idea of the museum because it suggested that her father’s character was a real person.

The facts so far:

1. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character.
2. 221B didn’t exist until 1932.
3. Sir Arthur’s daughter is against the museum.
4. Sherlock Holmes’s most valuable tool is his brain (and sometimes Watson).

So with all of this in mind, the only sane conclusion is that these fools haven’t even read the books, which makes it even worse that they are going to waste their time and money. Shortly after my disappointment in this lot was initiated, I walked by the Museum of London where they were having an exhibition that “delves into the mind of the genius sleuth”. There were people queued for this too, probably straight from Baker Street. It would be a different situation if they had props and sets from the movies and TV shows, but this gave you “a chance to look beyond the familiar deerstalker, pipe and cape and discover the complex character beneath”.

We are in dire times, folks, if people are celebrating a character known for his intellect when they can’t even think for themselves. If Sherlock Holmes was written in this day and age, he’d have to solve his greatest mystery yet – The Case of the Missing IQs. The game is afoot!